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The Darker Nations: A People's History of the Third World

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  631 Ratings  ·  49 Reviews
A landmark study that offers an alternative history of the Cold War from the point of view of the world's poor.

'"Europe" is morally, spiritually indefensible. And today the indictment is brought against it…by tens and tens of thousands of millions of men who, from the depths of slavery, set themselves up as judges.'--Aimé Césaire, Discourse on Colonialism

Here, from a brill
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published February 19th 2007 by New Press, The (first published 2007)
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Oct 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A brilliant dialectical analysis of the political phenomenon of third world and the global political economy. This is an analysis and not a narrative and assumes some rudimentary knowledge of the world history of the 20th century on part of the reader.

The main thesis of Parishad is that the third world is a project among the formerly colonised states of Asia, Africa, and Latin America, for political, economic and cultural sovereignty and mainly for dignity. It thoroughly examines the major leade
Nov 06, 2009 rated it really liked it
Prashad’s book is important, though I wouldn’t call it a “people’s history” as it focuses largely on the actions of the leaders of the U.S., U.S.S.R., and “Third World.” He does a good job of accessibly covering the general themes that played out during decolonization, independence and neoliberalism, as well as conceptualizing the Third World as an intentional project. But no book can really get at the dynamics at play over the course of 80 years and three continents. And of course, as anyone in ...more
Craig Werner
A classic case of where even smart Marxist history can go off the tracks. Prashad's one of he best writers about Asian American experience and he can be a fiery speaker whose anger about the state of the world, especially white supremacy and economic injustice, is usually on target. I was hoping that The Darker Nations would be the kind of overview that could serve as a foundation for readers wanting to orient themselves to the dizzying range of experiences subsumed under the "Third World" termi ...more
An absolute gem for understanding current global affairs and how we got here.
As in his lectures (many online), Vijay Prashad has such mastery for articulating overarching social issues, drilling down to give detailed examples before resurfacing to tie the ideas together.
So well-read, articulate, and with so much humanity...
Prashad brings to life the side of history that is censored, the anti-colonial movements that shook 20th century power structures against all odds, their triumphs and their
Nidhi Jakhar
Jun 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The book presents an erudite narrative on the Third World, which was created as a result of the cold war between the first two worlds. Post World War II, the world changed completely; not only politically but also economically. From the rubble of the war arose two worlds - First World comprising of USA and Western Europe and the Second World comprising of Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. The colonized nations across Asia, Europe and Latin America fought for independence and amassed as the Darker ...more
Jul 07, 2008 rated it it was ok
I'm not really sure what audience Prashad had in mind. As a novice to many of the histories, I was very confused. It doesn't really work as a textbook. The author offers so many case studies with little-to-no background I imagine even scholars would have trouble reading this without a reference guide.
J. Moufawad-Paul
Dec 10, 2014 rated it it was ok
I wanted to like this book, I really did, but it failed to live up to the subtitle. This is not to say that there weren't good parts in this book, only that Prashad failed to really give a People's History of the Third World. This is most probably because, as I later learned, Prashad isn't really on the side of the people when it comes to places like India where he does not support, unlike Arundhati Roy, the Naxal uprisings (which have a long history––yes a people's history) and instead endorses ...more
Jon Morgan
Sep 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
An excellent overview of the Third World as a conscious project, one that started giddily in the newly liberated states but deflated in the face of neoliberalism. Although the book has a broad outlook, it avoids cliche and jargon. The use of chapters that focus on subthemes of how the Third World created itself (e.g. cultural projects, development strategies) allows the book to move quickly while packing in detail and comparative analysis of national and regional situations. A great introduction ...more
Sep 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This is an amazing book that tracks the history of the Third World Movement and its foundation of the Nonaligned Movement and how the efforts existed and the story of how it failed.

It's such a great read and it would be a great text book for International Relations degrees to get a much more Global South perspective than what you get in the mainstream academia.

Anyone in the field should read this book at some point!
Jun 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I will use this as a text again as my students find it the most illuminating book of unknown world history they have ever read. It is the book I have been waiting for as a professor who always hoped to find a political history of the "Third World" from the points of view of some thoughtful people who live there. Read the other reviews on goodreads. They all have the same praise. Fabulous.
Mar 21, 2007 rated it it was ok
Not quite as engaging as I hoped it would be but it provides tons of great info on the development of the "third world." It paints a very different picture of the non-first world than what we are probably used to seeing on television screens and newspaper articles.
Jun 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
In The Darker Nations, Vijay Prashad’s objective seems deceptively simple: to recount the history of the post-World War II era through the perspective of those who have lived under imperialism, the so-called “Third World”. Yet by nuancing and specifying his definition of the “Third World”, the author is able to provide an account that is not a mere reflection of or reaction to the First and Second Worlds, but represents a culturally authentic and independent product of anticolonial thought and r ...more
Nov 14, 2017 rated it liked it
A riveting read brought low by the constraints of ideology. Cherry picked facts abound and while he is sharp-eyed in identifying the failures of competing ideologies, he quibbles around his. Outpaced by the events of history. It, however, does an excellent job portraying an oft-ignored viewpoint and some of its critiques hit home. Warily recommended, a text which despite its flaws will leave your shibboleths challenged.

A bellwether quote: "What the elites who were produced by this proj ect saw
Mar 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: world-history
Great story about how peoples in the Global South challenged imperialism and developed a third option to capitalism and communism.
May 20, 2008 rated it liked it
"The Darker Nations: A People's History of the Third World"

By Vijay Prashad

Review by James Generic

The Third World is a Cold War term, meaning mostly former nations that were ruled by Europeans and won their political independence in the decades after the second world war. That's how most people understand it anyway. It started off as a term of empowerment and hope by the leaders of the newly independent countries in the 1950s, after years of trying to bind the colonized into a single cause. Thes
Sep 23, 2007 rated it liked it
I couldn't decide between 3 or 4 stars.

Before I read this book, I was expecting to hear a new perspective on third world battleground between the U.S and U.S.S.R, but even though the focus is different the author accomplished a lot more than I expected.

The subject of the book is what Prashad calls the Third World Movement, or Non-Aligned Movement, that really began to take shape after World War II through the efforts of Gamal Abdel Nasser, Kwame Nkrumah, Jawaharlal Nehru, Ahmed Sukarno, etc. Pra
Leonel Caraciki
May 26, 2014 rated it liked it
Um livro complicado de analisar. Por um lado nota-se a capacidade de pesquisa do autor, que consegue escrever um livro recheado de eventos e personagens com uso cuidadoso de fontes e de literatura de apoio. Por outro lado, Prashad que é um militante marxista ortodoxo faz tanta questão de jogar na cara do leitor suas preferências ideológicas que o livro se torna quase que um panfleto. Logo no início, o autor levanta a tese de que o Terceiro Mundo deu errado pois os projetos dos partidos comunista ...more
Jul 23, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history-global
The title unsettled me a bit – but this had received good reviews and the series it is in (The New Press's People's History series edited by Howard Zinn) is really quite good. I am so pleased I read this: it is a cogent, politically charged and engaged analysis of the 'Third World' as a political project. Prashad sees the Third World as a potentially a powerful challenge to but also product of the two worlds of the Cold War, and a movement and concept with enormous promise. He argues that the co ...more
Rick Goff
Jan 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
This fast-paced, erudite argument regarding the creation, rise and demise of the Third World was a very challenging read for me, as a result of my ignorance of geopolitical history and economic history. The Third World arose as a term to describe the remainder of the world (about 2/3 of its population) that was not covered under the labels First World (NATO) and Second World (Warsaw Pact) as they were defined in a speech by - who else - Winston Churchill.

Each chapter of Prashad's book is entitle
Jan 15, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Enjoyed the book. The downsides were organization and clarity. On a couple of occasions I really had no idea what he was talking about, nor what he was getting at exactly. Mostly in the Tehran chapter and the chapter on Mecca. Seems like there was another but can't remember at the moment. Anyway this could have been my lack of knowledge concerning the Middle East as well. The way it was organized however, just seemed terrible to me. Each chapter is broken down into one particular city pertinent ...more
Sep 25, 2013 rated it liked it
Not really a peoples history...more of a history of those in power/ those who had the ability to make any sort of difference (good or bad). People aren't mentioned (as in the masses) which seems to marginalize them more.
Interesting concept of the Third world as a project rather than a place, explains why these places are still behind today.
Explains how capitalism was able to grow (ie. how the US came to dominate everyone/everything). Of course it's impossible for these countries to become mini-A
Jun 03, 2015 rated it liked it
This was a fascinating read, and it gave a different perspective on a number of historical trends and events. Its structure is awkward, though, and Prashad seems married to the concept of arranging the chapters around cities in which events took place even if the city has little to do with what the chapter is actually about, thematically. This leaves the reader sometimes confused about the significance of what is being discussed in each chapter. There is also a level of inconsistency in that som ...more
Apr 11, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: academic, nonfiction
This book was informative and thought-provoking, but fitting the histories of sixty countries on three different continents into a single 300-page book was kind of an impossible proposition. I felt like too many details were skated over, and while I appreciated the way the author tried to follow specific thematic threads across countries in each chapter, the timeline jumped around a LOT. At the very least, this book needed a glossary of the many acronyms and leaders involved, and some visual aid ...more
Aug 29, 2007 rated it really liked it
such a wealth of information, much of which i've been literally craving to find in one concise spot for quite a while, but so awfully awfully written and awkwardly paced. then there's the fundamental concern for this (is it too early to call this a "style" unto itself? is it more than revisionism? hyper-revisionism?) "peoples history" business, ie if you plainly state your intentions and subjectivity as a historian and author, does that validate the blatant framing of historical incidents and ch ...more
Oct 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I really enjoyed this book and the perspective it presented. I had very little knowledge of the history of the Third World and the various national liberation movements before this. In recent years I'd started taking more of an interest in the social movement in Singapore during the 50s and 60s, and so it was great to have an insight into the wider context of the time; it certainly added a lot more to my understanding of the things former Malayan student activists have told me!
May 20, 2008 rated it really liked it
I was skeptical when I first started the book -- Prashad seemed to idealize the nationalism of independence movements and to discount the impact of economic issues in the struggles for genuine independence. But as the "narrative" progresses, he confronts the problems of lack of economic development (when economic power is the only logic with currency) and movements that are based on nationalism.
The Tick
Jul 29, 2010 rated it liked it
This book had a lot of good information in it, and I appreciated the perspective, which isn't one you usually get here. However, the way the information was organized made it difficult to follow, and the writing was extremely dense. I don't really mind dense writing most of the time, but this was really hard to get through.
May 01, 2010 rated it really liked it
A history of the idea of the Third World, and how it played out in the 20th century, from a socialist perspective. Snapshots, examples and anecdotes, used to illustrate the trajectory of a dream - not a comprehensive history.
Oct 10, 2013 rated it liked it
It was a good history of the elite of the Third World. The title is misleading as it does not focus on the people per se. I think it was badly written and it became a drag to read. Very informative though.
Dec 11, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: history, race
Definitely an interesting look at the history of the Cold War, but I just couldn't get into this. I don't think I'm the right audience for this, in the sense that I don't have much of a background in this period of history or in Third World movements.
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